New Job?!

I have a new job, it's a Peruvian miracle.

I fought for four months to get my work visa. Then I started work at a company for which the word "disappointing" is an understatement. My job was going nowhere and I had started to think that moving home would become a reality.

And then- through a friend of a friend, I was invited for an interview. I went to the interview with zero expectations. After sending out dozens of resumes and sitting through a handful of flop interviews, I was expecting this to be the same. However, before I even left the room, I was offered the job.

It's a real job. With steady hours and decent pay. It's at a school which means I receive an unbelievable amount of paid vacation. I am working with children who though sometimes are beyond aggravating, it's hard to stay mad when you receive a hug from a small, Peruvian child.

After waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, I have a job. Words can not describe the amount of relief that has washed over me. Recently we had been saying that it was going to take a job being dropped in my lap, in order for this crazy plan to work. And that's exactly what happened.

16 Churches?

My sweet, sweet boyfriend has a serious problem with his memory. That boy has lived in Lima his whole life and yet only knows one way to get to work, school, his grandparent's house, etc. He frequently leaves his house without his cell phone or card access key for work. His memory is unbelievably fleeting. What's unusual, though, is that he can't remember how to get to the airport but he does remember what we were talking about "on that one day last year when I was in Nashville and we were eating at the Cheesecake Factory. You were eating pasta and drinking an iced tea and you were wearing your favorite dress and new wedges..." Seriously? Seriously?! You can remember what I was wearing on a random lunch date over a year ago, but you can't take an alternate route to your favorite sushi place? Oh, I love that boy.

As we were making plans for the Easter holidays he said, "On Friday, it's tradition for my family to go to different churches in Lima and look at the monuments they have set up for Easter." Sounded good enough to me, "How many churches do you go to?" I asked. He replied: "Sixteen."

"Sixteen! You've got to be kidding me! How long does it take to go to sixteen different churches?"

He continued to tell me it takes only a couple of hours, which made zero logical sense, but I went with it.

When the day finally arrived (its was actually Maundy Thursday, not Good Friday), we met his parents and went churches throughout Lima. Due to the language barrier and slight religious barrier (Baptists and Catholics are just slightly different) I'm not exactly sure why we were going, but I enjoyed it anyway. A few of the churches had actually set up a mock table of the Last Supper which I found to be particularly fitting and poignant. Others had simply decorated the altar with too many flowers, something I found interesting since over abundance is avoided during Lent.

I struggled to explain to his parents how Baptists celebrate Easter, again the language barrier was simply too much. Those conversations are often particularly difficult for me because I fear that the lack of pomp and circumstance in some Protestant denominations might come off as apathy to ceremony-loving Catholics.

Oh, and in case you're wondering: it was only seven churches, not sixteen...

Feliz Cumple

I almost completely forgot about my birthday. Between starting a new job, working crazy hours, living in a another country and being thousands of miles away from all my birthday traditions, it was Monday afternoon before I realized, "Oh wait, my birthday is Wednesday."

Since I have only been at this job for about a week, I didn't tell anyone it was my birthday. However, the girl who drives me found out Tuesday afternoon and must have told the teacher in my classroom. When I arrived at school this morning, 23 adorable children sang Happy Birthday to me in English and in Spanish.

I had to teach in the evening, but was able to celebrate with Alvaro's family by going to dinner at my favorite restaurant. The best part about my birthday is that all of Peru is on vacation today and tomorrow for Easter. Thank you, Peru, for this fabulous birthday.

I don't exactly feel one year older, but I do feel one year more grown up. I guess that happens when you begin living on your own, trying to pay your own bills and mommy & daddy are a continent away. Hello, adulthood!

Spanish Miracle

I have absolutely no idea what happened but sometime over the last week, I started speaking Spanish. I completely abandoned all of my Spanish education when I went to Belmont. I was convinced that I would never again need to learn Spanish and I threw myself into my German class. Little did I know that four years later, those same German classes would lead me to Lima, Peru. It’s funny how things work like that.

When I arrived, I was able to understand some things, if the speaker spoke slowly. I have been able to read signs, contracts, the newspaper, you name it, which has significantly helped with my adjustment in Lima. The biggest challenge was getting my mind to recall of those Spanish structures and vocabulary words that I learned so long ago.

I have spent the last five months listening intently and attempting to speak my very, very butchered Spanish. About a week and a half ago, Alvaro and I went to a huge lunch at his parents house with most of his extended family from his dad’s side. Since we were indulging in a huge Peruvian meal, Pisco Sours flowed freely and there was a wide variety of wine choices. Somewhere between the pisco sour and white wine, I started speaking Spanish more than I ever had before. In an interesting turn of events, I started speaking Spanish on top of other conversations and yelling across the table. I was speaking animated Spanish in a way I had never done before.

Thanks to the pisco, everyone at lunch showered me with compliments about my Spanish. I think the compliments (and the pisco) was all I needed to show myself that I really can do this. Ever since then, I have had few worries going into a Spanish speaking situation without my dear translator, Alvaro.

I have been involved in a new job search and yesterday, all of the English speakers were out of the office. So I had an involved conversation regarding vacation policies, pay rate and benefits with one of the secretaries. I know it’s not perfect, but it is getting better little by little. Which is such a relief. And the best part is that now I actually wantto speak Spanish, I find myself trying to be in situations where I have no choice but to speak this crazy language.

In other news- I have been in Peru for five months. It’s official: I have now been here longer than I was in Germany. Who ever would have guessed that living in Germany would have brought me to Peru...

Complete Vacuum Chaos

Last Friday, before leaving to go pick up Erin from the airport, I decided to make one last quick vacuum of my apartment. My place came with this tiny, apartment style vacuum that I have always thought was somewhat sub-par. It wasn’t nearly as powerful as my parent’s Animal Hair Picker Upper 2000, but I thought the smaller size and non-animal hair specific qualities could account for the lack of power. Well, last Friday it was pulling up absolutely nothing. After five months of vacuuming cat hair, I decided it was time to investigate changing the bag.

This was going well until I pulled the bag out (along with a giant cloud of dust) and realized that most likely, this bag wasn’t disposable. The plastic cover was an old plastic that was both discolored and brittle with age. The previous owner has seemingly taped the bag back together with brown masking tape. I haven’t seen extra bags, either in my apartment nor the grocery store, so my first instinct was that this was somehow reusable. Of course my next step was to call my parents. Though I want to be independent and a creative problem solver, issues of vacuum bags and faulty oven electricity should be left to the experts (and parents are experts in everything, duh). My dad asked if the bag was cloth or paper, I replied, “Cloth”. There was my answer: reusable.

But how, one must ask, do you empty a reusable vacuum bag. After careful investigation, I saw that the bottom of the bag was held together by a removable slide apparatus. Once that was removed, the contents could fall out of the bottom of the bag. I want to reuse resources and recycle and save our dear planet, but for sanitary purposes, I think that some things should simply being disposable. For example, kitchen clothes and vacuum bags.

I left my Skype on and went to the kitchen to dispose of the contents. The dust and cat hair and human hair and cigarette butts (clearly not mine), were so packed together that I had to pull them out of the bag. Gross. With every loosened clump, a cloud of dust shot straight into my face, and my mom was able to hear every squeamish yell.

I cleaned out as much as I could and attempted to put the bag back in the vacuum. Thanks to many early mornings spent cleaning at Banana Republic, I had a general idea of how to the bag back together. That is, of course, until I realized that the seal was completely broken. I tried as best I could to close the seal and showed my parents my proud work. I turned on the vacuum and within seconds a cloud of smoke was coming out of the back of the vacuum! I squealed, my parents started laughing and in unison said, “The bag isn’t sealed correctly.” No joke.

With a kaputt bag and a desperate need to vacuum, I gathered my Spanish dictionary, checked the words for “to work” and “vacuum” and went downstairs to ask Enrique, my doorman, if there was a vacuum I could borrow. He told me that unfortunately there wasn’t one. I assured him not to worry because Alvaro was going to bring the vacuum from his house.

And he did, which was very sweet, but now I am vacuum-less and have a cat that is still in the Northern Hemisphere when it comes to climate and she is shedding with each and every step. Until I can find another vacuum bag, it looks like I’ll be creating a DIY cleaning device to handle all this hair. Thanks, Peru.

Erin in LIMA!

I have been mostly MIA this past week, sorry about that. That’s what happens when you start a new job with crazy hours and you’re trying to adjust to the schedule. And when you get a slight bout of Peruvian allergies and you go to a three and a half hour long job interview. Throw in yoga classes, lesson planning and preparing for my first visitor and you’ve got a busy girl.

My dear friend Erin (pictures above on the 4th of July in Dresden) is currently sitting on a plane bound of Lima. I am so very excited, not only to have an American here with me but mainly just to have Erin here with me. She and I set off to Germany together two years ago. At the time, we were merely acquaintances, but it was during our time in Germany that we became very close and she is now one of my best friends. She shares my love or language and travel and is one of my loudest cheerleaders when it comes to my adventure in Lima.

I can’t wait to spend a week with her and am excited to show her a little bit of my new home.

Safe travels, Erin!